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State Archives & History Subcommittee Rules in Favor of Gulfport Library Supporters
by Keith Burton - GCN  10/15/08

Gulfport residents supporting the renovation of the former Harrison County Library in Gulfport have received a major victory in their efforts to preserve the building. The Permit Subcommittee of the Mississippi Department of of Archives and History (MDAH) Board of Trustees voted to recommend designating the library a
Mississippi Landmark.

GCN received word on the subcommittee's vote at 11: 48 a.m. from a spokesperson with the MDAH. The committee's meeting started only at 11:00 a.m.

The subcommittee's recommendation will be sent for consideration of the full MDAH Board of Trustees next. That meeting is set for this Friday.

At issue is whether the old library building that faces the beachfront near Jones Park can be preserved. The library was severely damaged by hurricane Katrina. The county has arranged to construct a new library in Gulfport's Orange Grove community well away from the beachfront and promised to build a new downtown library but a location has not been announced. Many Gulfport residents want the new downtown library to be placed in the existing building.

Both the City of Gulfport and Harrison County, which owns the building, have determined that it is not needed and have voted to demolish the structure. Some Gulfport residents feel the building is important to the community and want it restored. The county reported earlier this year that FEMA would not pay to rebuild the library at its flood-prone location. The county plans to build a new library with FEMA assistance in the Gulfport Orange Grove area far from any flood waters from future hurricanes.

If the full board votes to concur with its subcommittee's recommendation, both Harrison County and the City of Gulfport will face some new choices as to the final disposition of the library.

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